2011-12 Warrior Basketball

Tehachapi senior Cory Lange was named the Bakersfield Californian's Player of the Year for 2012.
Lange led the Warriors to a SSL Championship in 2012. Photo by The Bakersfield Californian.

All-Area Boys Basketball
Player of the Year: Cory Lange, Tehachapi

Posted by Zach Ewing, The Bakersfield Californian, on April 15, 2012

Cory Lange had no idea his senior basketball season would end up like this. Neither, apparently, did anyone else.

Lange went from receiving no special attention on defense early in the season -- whoops -- to being Kern County's leading scorer and the focal point of Tehachapi's unbeaten South Sequoia League season.

For that, he is The Cailfornian's Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

"It was totally unexpected," Lange said. "I remember my coach saying maybe I could get it, and I didn't think there was a chance. It's a really neat honor."

Scouts will tell you there are a couple of more talented players in Kern County, but none put together a high school season like Lange. He averaged 25.3 points -- best in the county -- and proved versatile enough elsewhere with averages of 6.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.7 steals and even 16 blocks.

"He put in a lot of time in the offseason, shot 500 jumpers a day over at his church," Tehachapi coach Chris Olofson said. "Something else we were able to do this year was put him in the low post a couple of times. He has that all-around game. He can play just about anywhere. That's what he proved."

Lange said it didn't seem like defenses were paying him any extra attention early in the season, even though he averaged more than 20 points a game as a junior and that, of Tehachapi's other top four scorers in 2010-2011, three of them graduated.

By the time the Warriors reached SSL play, however, extra attention was constant.

"What really impressed me the most was that teams were ready for him, he wasn't sneaking up on anybody, and he still got it done," Olofson said.

The box scores backed that up, particularly during one late January stretch when Lange scored 45 points against Taft on a Tuesday and followed it up with 48 against Bakersfield Christian on Friday.

"It never really seemed like I was scoring that much," Lange said. "I've been doing it my whole life, but I look more at our team and how our wins and losses are."

To that end, the Warriors were 18-9 and bowed out in the Central Section Division III quarterfinals to Independence. Lange, hampered by a knee injury he suffered in the first minute of the game, scored 21 points but generally struggled in a 70-55 defeat.

"To me, it was a good year and I was pleased, but I wish it could have been better," Lange said.

Now that the swelling has gone down in Lange's injured knee, he had an MRI done last week.

That injury at least made one decision easier for Lange. He now knows he'll head on his mission for the Mormon church, then look into playing college football or basketball. He had previously considered delaying the mission.

Still, after the two-year mission is complete, colleges are definitely interested.

"They tell me I'm really athletic," Lange said. "They say I force a couple of things and need to learn, but they say I have a lot of potential."

Never was that more clear than during his senior year at Tehachapi, especially on those nights when scoreboard operators could scarcely keep up: He scored 30 or more points five times.

"To put up the numbers he did was really impressive," Olofson said. "He out-did my expectations for sure."

Lange's Player of the Year honor is special -- it's only the second awarded to a player from outside of Bakersfield, and the first since McFarland's Eliseo Santillano was honored in 1991-92 -- and Tehachapi treated it as such. The school sprung for a framed collage to honor Lange, complete with photos, news clippings and Player of the Year centerpiece.

"He was totally shocked," Olofson said, "but I thought it was appropriate we did something special for him."